The Circus Train, Amita Parikh

A girl in red sits at the window of a blue train. The title is in yellow

After a bout of polio when she was too young to remember, Lena uses a wheelchair to get around. Her father, Theo, is an illusionist in a traveling circus. So Lena spends most of her time on the train. She likes her life, but what she wants most is companionship. Sure, people on the train are nice to her, including her teacher Clara, but she wants a friend her own age. Enter Alexandre. Although he entered the train with less than honorable intentions, he might be the friend Lena has always longed for.

While I disagree with the blurb stating this is for fans of Water for Elephants and The Night Circus, this book can stand out on its own merit. With the story being WWII based historical fiction, and centering around a circus, this book ticks a lot of boxes. I appreciate that Parikh included a character in a wheelchair. I loved that there were no animals involved in this circus because I love books about the circus, but the parts that include animals always break my heart. With the war closing in around the circus, things will drastically change for our main trio of characters. I appreciate the author’s note at the end explaining some key points of the story. Overall, this is an enjoyable read. Thank you, Penguin Group Putnam, for sending this along.

Book Links
(releasing December 6th)


About the Book

When all is lost, how do you find the courage to keep moving forward?

1938. Lena Papadopoulos has never quite found her place within the circus, even as the daughter of the extraordinary headlining illusionist, Theo. Brilliant and curious, Lena—who uses a wheelchair after a childhood bout with polio—yearns for the real-world magic of science and medicine, her mind stronger than the limitations placed on her by society. Then her unconventional life takes an exciting turn when she rescues Alexandre, an orphan with his own secrets and a mysterious past.

As World War II escalates around them, their friendship blossoms into something deeper while Alexandre trains as the illusionist’s apprentice. But when Theo and Alexandre are arrested and made to perform in a town for Jews set up by the Nazis, Lena is separated from everything she knows. Forced to make her own way, Lena must confront her doubts and dare to believe in the impossible—herself.

Read this review on Goodreads and Bookbub.


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